As a result of a gay couple’s appeal to the High Court of Justice in Israel, a public committee which regulates issues around fertility and childbirth in Israel is to recommend changing current legislation on surrogacy, which excludes gay couples.
The couple, Itay Pinkas (38) and Yoav Arad (39) wished to become parents, but could not qualify for surrogacy in Israel since the existing law only allows heterosexual couples to do so.
The two men travelled to India to have their children via a complex and expensive surrogacy process. In the wake of this, they appealed to the High Court of Justice, and now a committee is recommending that the current legislation be changed. The committee will recommend that the Health Ministry allow same-sex couples to qualify for surrogacy in Israel.
Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef, chairman of the public committee, is a prominent figure in the Israeli health system. The rest of the committee consists of 11 lawyers, doctors and public figures. Their report will be delivered soon to Health Ministry Director General Roni Gamzo next week. If Deputy Minister Yakov Lizman does not raise any objections, it will move to the Knesset.
According to the 1996 Israeli surrogacy law, if a man and woman comply with specific criteria, they are free to use the services of a surrogate mother. However, same-sex couples did not fit into the criteria laid out and were thus forced to seek surrogacy services elsewhere, mainly in the US and India.
Mr Pinkas and Mr Arad, who have two daughters from Indian surrogate mothers, said they were optimistic: “We hope the recommendations will be legalised soon, we want to have more children,” Mr Arad said. “This is a victory for the Israeli society as a whole, not just for one sector.” He also added that he hoped the report would bring the goal of civil equality closer.
Irit Rosenblum, founder and CEO of the New Family organization said that though the report was a significant move, for same-sex couples to have children in Israel, many more laws would have to be amended: “The conservative composition of the Knesset might not be in our favor, but we must not lose hope.”